Thursday Night Unwatchable Football
After securing a heavily priced partnership with the NFL Network, CBS may be worried about their product. Thursday Night Football has lacked the drama and competition that make the NFL so compelling. In the first 4 TNF games the victors outscored the losers 163-50 (This includes the opener televised on NBC). Thursday has always provided a sloppier and less pleasing version of NFL football. The young 2014 season has provided some pretty unwatchable football on Thursday’s and the games have reached an all time low. This week the Green Bay Packers dominated the Vikings 42-10. It was just another example of TNF’s poor watchability.
2013 saw 7 of 15 TNF games decided by a touchdown or less. This season there are 17 TNF games (Including the kick off game). Almost every game is between division rivals. In theory this makes for easier travel, more familiar opponents and closer games. The goal of the scheduling was clearly to reduce the disadvantage for the road team, on a short week. The problem is of the 5 games played on a Thursday Night the home teams are 4-1. Even more problematic road teams are averaging only 16.2 points while home teams average 33.4 points. The outlier is the Giants winning in Washington 45-14.
There are two problems with Thursday Night Football. The first problem is that it puts both teams (but especially) the road team in an unfair short week. The NFL work week is very structured and organized. A game on Thursday Night throws everything out of sync. The teams have less time to game plan and practice. Maybe more importantly the teams have less time to recover from the previous Sunday. There is so much work that goes into a football game and cutting the week three days shorter is unfair.
The second problem is that there are too many TNF games. This thins out the Thursday schedule. When every team gets to play on TNF you’re gonna get some clunkers. The problem is that we have seen nothing but unpleasing blowouts (The Ravens 26-6 beating of the Steelers was pleasing). Thursday night football should be a reward for excellence. There should be fewer games and only premier battles.
Here is the thing that makes TNF work: people watch. We are so in love with the NFL we turn it on every week. The NFL should probably cut back on TNF. This would make sense but they will probably expand it. They love money and thats all that matters to them.